MUSIC INTERVIEW: nothing,nowhere.
Photo Credit: Jonathan Weiner
To think that rap-punk rocker nothing,nowhere. used to hide behind a mask, clenched fists and his spread-out hand in a midst of obscurity and many illusive names feels like a lifetime ago, buried in his DIY Soundcloud rooted days. Now not hiding his true name of Joe Mulherin and stepping out of the skeletal shadows of his former self, nothing, nowhere is nothing but this generations answer to a hip-hop and rap artist crossing over into alternative culture, his emotionally driven brand of dark emo rap and light-hearted pop-rock and spiritually awakened self the driving force behind his artistry. Ahead of his upcoming extensive UK tour, we caught up with Joe Mulherin aka nothing,nowhere. to talk all things new music, mindfulness and Vermont-based barns.
We think a good place to kick off will be with all these new singles you have been releasing recently. Kind of when and where did the writing process start for MEMORY_FRACTURE, M1SERY_SYNDROME and CYAN1DE? Because as we know, you’ve been putting out a tonne of singles like Sledgehammer and Pieces of You, alongside releasing remixes and working on tracks with Sum 41 and Stand Atlantic since you dropped your last album with Trauma Factory last year. We were just thinking where in the midst of releasing all that music did the new singles come together?
I basically built a studio on my barn out here in Vermont, and at some point, I just decided I got too overwhelmed flying out to Los Angeles and New York City every time I wanted to record in a studio so I just decided to do it myself. That’s been my process for the past year really, just been sitting in my studio making music in my barn and figuring out where and when to put out all this music. I think it really started with MEMORY_FRACTURE intro M1SERY_SYNDROME and then going into CYAN1DE, all of these songs are part of a record that I am nearly finished with now I can completely record it out here in my house. I’m really proud and I’m really stoked about this new record.
But that’s the one thing that strikes us about you as an artist, you just have this innate ability to put out singles without a batting an eyelid or giving it a second thought, which makes you have this raw and organic process to releasing your material without keeping people waiting for a full-length and we think that really goes back to the roots of nothing,nowhere. from the Soundcloud days where that DIY culture of putting out tracks, demos and EP’s with a quick turnaround time is second nature right? Do you think that way of fast releasing music and keeping listeners completely engaged all the time with new material is still a big part of nothing,nowhere. today because we definitely feel like it is.
Honestly, if I wasn’t on a record label, I would be releasing a single every other day, so this is fairly slow for me. But I think in the grand scheme of the music industry, it’s good to constantly be releasing music, as I always want to get new music out all the time. For my last record Trauma Factory, I had just shy of 100 songs to choose from to put on that record, so if it was just me back in the day, I would have just put out every single one of them. It is nice to approach the creative process in different ways, quality over quantity as they say, so I’ve been much more critical of the stuff I have been releasing. People have no attention span including me, so I’ll stay on TikTok and scroll through five second videos for hours and realise I’ve wasted half of my day and I think everyone is struggling with that same issue right now. No-one is waiting for an entire album anymore, so you have to stay active if you want people to care about what you are doing.
Having mentioned about the new standalone singles and collabs nothing,nowhere. has done over the years, it’s a trend you are taking into your new stuff. You’ve worked with Code Orange’s Eric for the visualiser for Memory Fracture, to getting Buddy from a band we know you love in Senses Fail to jump on guest vocals for Misery Syndrome and more recently working with Pete Wentz of course on Cyanide. Talk us through each of these collabs on the new nothing,nowhere. stuff and why it’s still so important for you to work with collaborators on the creative process for writing songs. Again, you’re no stranger to bringing in parties for your own material, but also jumping on features for other artists too.
I think during COVID I had to take a step back and re-examine exactly what it was I wanted to do with music, and I realised that for a very brief period of time that I let a lot of people dictate my emotions and what I was trying to convey with my music. So, with these new singles getting Pete Wentz and Buddy Neilson on board, I just want to built of the backs of those who came before me because I love what I love and I want to make music that I love, so I would say that I just want to make the type of music I would listen to in my truck driving around. And what do I listen to when I’m driving around? I listen to the same shit I grew up listening to, the same shit I have been listening to for decades. For this new record, I said I wanted to reach out to my idols and I want to do what they did in my own way. Currently people have heard Buddy from Senses Fail on M1SERY_SYNDROME and Pete Wentz from Fall Out Boy on CYAN1DE and I’m working with a lot more of my idols and I am just grateful that they believe in me and they support what I’m doing to be a part of the project that I’m working on. To feel some sort of validation by working with these individuals makes it worthwhile. I’m fairly spiritual and I don’t talk about it too much, but I feel like if you set your sights on something and have a goal in mind, sometimes if your karma is right, everything lines up and the universe conspires to help you out, it seems like it just can’t be a coincidence that I was in middle school with a Walkman Disc Player listening to Let It Unfold You and Infinity on High then releasing songs with its curators. It’s a bizarre concept, one which I’ve given up on trying to make sense of any of it. Right now, I’m just riding a wave.
One thing we love about you as an artist Joe is your one take versions of you performing your own songs. We mean, more recently, the one take version of you performing Memory Fracture just gave us goosebumps in the best possible way, it’s a stunning version of an already super special song. Don’t get us wrong, you’ve been putting out live albums, covers and one takes for years, but did you maybe almost find a heightened passion for these one takes recorded from your home out in Vermont during the pandemic of course, where witnessing songs performed in real time on tour wasn’t an option?
I did my first one take which was hammer and it was a brutal winter as they always are here in Vermont, there was three feet of snow outside and it was -25 outside and I had to keep myself busy. So, I decided to try out these stripped-down performances of my songs because that’s how I started out with just me and my guitar, so I thought it would be cool to just re-imagine these songs. They have really taken on a life of their own, and I almost feel like the one takes have their own fandom as well. Some people only listen to my one takes and that’s cool, because there is different groups of fans and it’s great for me because I can just post the one takes whenever I want and it just keeps me fresh and it keeps me occupied, otherwise I would just be wasting my time.
Also being a fellow vegan we couldn’t have this chat without bringing up being vegan straight-edge with you and just the general mindful life you lead. As well as being vegan for over a decade, you practice daily meditation, keep chickens and go biking a lot out in your secluded home in Vermont. Talk to me about this life you lead outside of nothing,nowhere. but also how practicing these healthy habits has positively impacted your career as a musician, where stuff like the grind of the touring cycle and constant need to put out music has benefited from this.
That’s a great question. A lot of people ask me why I live the way I live and it’s all just out of necessity now. I discovered right when I started touring that not only is this physically taxing, but it’s also extremely mentally taxing. Often there where times where I didn’t realise how anxious I was until I would get home and I’d start really struggling internally, so I started to connect the dots and told myself that I had to start doing things within my life to level out the adrenaline and the cortisol this touring lifestyle creates. Touring is not easy, and even just everyday stuff for making music and having expectations it’s really hard. If I didn’t have a quiet place to come back to, if I didn’t have a routine, if I wasn’t taking care of my mind, body and spirit, I would be struggling. Around 2018 I had to cancel tour dates and festivals and I had to go away and really examine the days within this new lifestyle I created for myself, because before I made music professionally, I would never really see anyone. I’m not a very social person anyway, so that was really difficult for me. For anyone reading this, it’s so important to have some level of discipline, otherwise you will pay the price and I learnt that the hard way.
We suppose with this upcoming UK and Europe tour on the horizon, what’s the future looking like for nothing,nowhere. at the moment? Are these singles eventually going to unfold into a bigger release. But it generally seems like you are super stoked for this new chapter of nothing,nowhere. right?
I do have a new record that is just about finished and it’s my fav route record yet, I know every musician says that, but I think it’s true to me and it’s the music I grew up listening to and I did it in my own way. I’ve very proud of the fact I recorded the entire record here in my barn, so it’s the truest, rawest expression of myself.
Interview by: Katie Conway-Flood
nothing,nowhere. is currently out on a UK tour, see him live at the remaining dates:
Wed 23rd – BRISTOL – Fleece
Thu 24th – LONDON – Electric Ballroom